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Development of novel analytical and experimental approaches for an in-depth characterization and optimization of Silicon Photomultipliers

Final Report Summary - SIPM IN-DEPTH (Development of novel analytical and experimental approaches for an in-depth characterization and optimization of Silicon Photomultipliers)

The detection of extremely weak light signals starting from single photons is of critical importance for a very wide range of scientific and technical applications. This includes high energy physics and astrophysics, medical imaging, biotechnology, scientific instrumentation, communication, environmental monitoring, homeland security, and many others.

The development of Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPMs) – a new emerging generation of photosensors with superior photon number and timing resolution at room temperature, high reliability and robustness, insensitivity to magnetic fields and low operating voltages – came as a real breakthrough in photon detection in the XXI century. Furthermore, SiPMs are compatible with commonly used CMOS technology and inexpensive in mass-production, especially in comparison with conventional vacuum photomultiplier tubes and solid state single photon counters.

The first applications of SiPM technology in high energy particles calorimetry and positron emission tomography (PET) started about a decade ago and revealed its enormous potential. However, it was at the same time that also specific drawbacks and bottlenecks were discovered that had to be addressed to allow a secure and efficient large-scale implementation of SiPMs for various applications.

In order to evaluate their full potential for a specific application, it is necessary to quantify their fundamental parameters also as a particle detector in combination with scintillators or optical fibres used for signal generation and transport in detail. The development of comprehensive analytical and experimental approaches for an in-depth characterization and optimization of SiPMs was the goal of this project and aimed at providing valuable support for the implementation of SiPM technology in a variety of applications. This development furthermore provides an excellent basis for future advanced designs of SiPMs.

Since a number of ongoing and planned large and medium-scale European projects would benefit from an improved theoretical basis of the intrinsic limitations of this novel technology, the “SiPM in-depth” project was started. It aimed at a comprehensive transfer of knowledge on SiPM technology to the European host institution and the wider research community, as well as the development of advanced theoretical, experimental and methodical approaches to fully exploit this technology. Furthermore, the project meant to actively build bridges between developers, researchers and application specialists in the UK, EU, USA, Russia and other parts of the world.

During last years, R&Ds, studies, and applications of SiPMs are in focus of many conference sessions and majority of reports related to low light level photon detectors. Obviously, the SiPM becomes a well-recognized working horse in a detection of optical photons and high energy particles of any kind: neutrinos, neutrons, electrons, and especially X- and Gamma photons. In the same time, SiPM technology is still emerging and has a great potential for further developments. The “SiPM in-depth” project provides more opportunities and valuable support for sustainable development of science, technology and medicine in these areas in Europe and worldwide through international collaborations.

Communities of scientists and engineers from SiPM-related R&D and application areas recognized advanced achievements in research, development, characterization, modelling, analysis, and applications of Silicon Photomultipliers as well as international collaboration and dissemination activity of the researcher, Dr. Vinogradov. During the “SiPM in-depth” project, he has been elected to the IEEE Senior Member grade, joined the Expert Board of the EC Coordination and Support Action in the domain of Future Emerging Technologies (FET-Open) project “SENSE – a roadmap for the ideal low light level sensor development”, and joined the Photodetectors Expert Group of the EC European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST) action TD-1401 “Fast Advanced Scintillator Timing (FAST)”.